Archives for posts with tag: success

I’m doing well in my little job, so well in fact, that I am often first in various store metrics used by my company: sales, sales per hour, credit cards opened, etc.

The leads fluctuate among three of us. The other two top producers have worked at the store for years. Both of them have degrees in design, and have run their own companies. I am a criminal justice major who spent most of her working life in investigations.

My co-workers have formal training and experience that far exceeds mine. They can walk into a home or sit down with a client and quickly come up with product and arrangements that would take me hours or days longer, if I could do it at all. They deal with the store’s top clients, making presentations that lead to single sales in tens of thousands of dollars. I don’t.

It never occurred to me that I would be selling at the same level as our store’s top designers. But I do. Consistently.

So how do I manage to keep up? I’ve been examining this question lately.  The answer is that I just grind it out. I substitute effort for experience, and play to my strengths.  I keep my eyes open, and approach everyone. I engage. I listen. When I sense a lack of interest, I move on. When my customers display interest, I hang in, and respect their pace. My product sells itself; it’s my job not to get in the way.  And I truly enjoy what I am doing. I like helping people, and having fun. I tell them, “If you’re not enjoying this, we’re doing it wrong.”

Something tells me that if I apply this approach to my search for a “real” job, I may end up with one.

I have been at my little job for slightly more than a year and a half now. After a month or two of wondering if I was in the right place, I’m comfortable and happy there. The job was probably just demanding enough to keep me from being swallowed by the bad things that were happening in my life when I took it. In retrospect, it is probably just as well I wasn’t trying to establish myself in a full-time, “serious” position while I was dealing with the death of my mother, my dog, and various family health issues. I suspect that my current restlessness is a good sign: my life is calm and stable enough to seriously pursue something bigger.

Here are a few things I’ve learned that I am sure will help me going forward:

I can succeed at something new:  I’ve mastered the infernal computer/register/inventory system, and learned to navigate all four channels of our business. I am producing results comparable to those of two senior colleagues, both of whom have design degrees and have run their own design businesses.

I am not motivated by money: I earn a fraction (a very small fraction) of what I used to. I would make the same amount of money just by showing up, but every day, I put forth my best effort, and continue to challenge myself. The proof of this is that despite having been momentarily stunned and disgusted by my insignificant first “raise” I am still  working hard.

I can simultaneously accept my reality and change it: I had hoped that I might be able to eventually meet all of my needs in this  job. My first review and wage increase showed me that I couldn’t.  It’s just not that kind of job, and I might have known it, had I asked the right questions when I interviewed.  After some reflection, I realized that I enjoyed the job too much to quit, and that I could alleviate my resentment  by simply reducing my availability to four days a week from seven.  Saving Mondays, Wednesdays, and Saturdays for myself gave me a sense of control and  needed structure in my schedule.

I am most successful when I forget myself: Fully focusing on my customers and meeting their needs allows no room for self-consciousness and insecurity, and produces excellent results.

I am not my job title, or my paycheck: I knew that, but it’s good to remember.

George Lakoff

George Lakoff has retired as Distinguished Professor of Cognitive Science and Linguistics at the University of California at Berkeley. He is now Director of the Center for the Neural Mind & Society (

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